Excerpt from the fourth chapter, ‘Deep Poland’

“The departure point in Wroclaw for the mini-busses to Klein-Peterwitz was at a short walk from the main bus station. The bus station was a relic of old times. The new one was under construction at the other side of the road, next to the train station. It already looked like a giant silver-metal Samsonite suitcase laying on its side. It would become more of a shopping mall than a station. As for now the busses waited at a parking space with a number of kiosks grouped around it. They sold pastry and bad coffee to the travellers. There was also a big old German building that looked like an ex-school or an ex-hospital. From here you had to walk over a mud path with on the left-hand side a little garden that lacked tombstones and on the right-hand side a fence. It closed off an area where constructions were going on. The walk lead from poverty to more poverty. A long time ago I might have marvelled at the patina of the socialist era. The mini-busses standing in line, and the people waiting with their luggage made it a depressing site. Boarding the small bus felt like an obligation, or a part of a routine. Travelling was reduced to movement, mostly done after sunset. We couldn’t see where we were, let alone where we went. You could feel from the bumpy road and the turns it made, that we entered Deep Poland.”
You can order the book here
Advertisements

Excerpt from the fourth chapter, ‘Deep Poland’

“I was very excited, when I first arrived and walked out of Wschodnia many years ago. I liked the little stores in the hall and the transparent architecture of the station. The light inside and the look reminded of a kodachrome postcard from the 1950s. I even liked the empty road in front of the station, that seemed to follow a straight line that would lead directly to Moscow. It gave the impression that the future was on its way, and that it would arrive from the East. We know it didn’t. It came from the West. And this process went very fast. The station got refurnished, lost its character and got filled with bars and shops that belonged to a brand. With every new visit I saw how the Berlinisation seeped into the streets in the immediate surroundings of the new metro station near your flat in Praga. This change only affected the interior of some places. The facades still showed a history in motion. What once was solid and a sign of wealth changed character thanks to long years of neglect. The result was a different kind of beauty: the beauty of decay. If you walked down to the river, to the wastelands, you saw a new skyline behind the old town. A new Jerusalem had appeared on the same place where once the ghetto stood. The colourful signs of Samsung and T-Mobile replaced the starry nights.”
You can order the book here.

Excerpt from the fourth chapter, ‘Deep Poland’

 
“I visited Poland for the first time in 1991. My girlfriend and I bought a car from a friendly Nigerian guy in Amsterdam. She wanted to see the East. The wall had gone, now we could explore. She had just finished her philosophy studies and my first novel was out since a couple of days. I don’t know if we had the naïve idea to drive to Königsberg. But we did drive a long way, via Wismar and Stralsund where we saw the nearby East German past in a shop that had nothing else than a broom in the window and we saw the nearby future around the corner of that shop, a loud Coca-Cola stand, guy with microphone included. In Kolobrzeg I got depressed in a nightclub full of drunk Scandinavians, who came for cheap beer and cheap sex. I thought to encounter traces of Günter Grass’s books in Gdańsk, but didn’t. I saw Solidarność flags, but somehow they reminded me of the Coca-Cola stand in Stralsund. On we went, Elblag, to the border. It was a simple provincial road with a road block. Soldiers doing their duty sent us back. Was that the former Soviet Union we were looking at? Also at this point we saw the future: a man in a luxury car who wanted to do business at the other side.”
 
 
You can order the book here

Excerpt from the third chapter ‘Talking about Possibilities’

 
“Trump, his army of trolls, European populist leaders and their parrots speak of ‘the élite.’ It is their aim to destroy the élite. Does this mean that, belonging to a noise scene, or to a DIY community that shows itself critical of the establishment, and thus of the élite, that all of a sudden you are part of the alt-right mob?
 
You know what. I’d rather not. Moreover, I’d rather like to think a little bit. Considering that I can move freely, speak freely and express my art freely, sometimes even with money from institutions, I think this élite of ours is not doing so bad at all. You may or may not like the EU, but one of the most important messages it has brought across, is the message of constant dialogue and thus of peace. The leaders don’t use outrage and anger as a unifying and catalysing tool.”
 
You can order the book here.

Excerpt from the third chapter ‘Talking about Possibilities’

“They want to tie a Clerical teacher by the leg to a chair and force him under the threat of a beating to recite the prayer ‘Our Father’ and ‘Ave Maria’ for six hours. Let’s hope he’ll be utterly sickened by it.”

And,

“..he stood on the podium and, when the audience was looking forward expectantly to his jokes, sat down, slowly and deliberately took off his boots and undid his dirty ragged foot wraps.”

The first quote made me think of Wiener actionists. I could envision a bearded man in his mid thirties, naked, and tied to a chair. On the table a reel-to-reel recorder plays unpleasant noises over a single loudspeaker of crappy nature. The Wiener actionist, maybe bald, maybe half bald, but the hairs growing on his head are long and wet, shouts the prayers at the top of his voice for six long hours. And because this is Wiener actionism he will piss, shit and vomit too, and maybe cut himself as well.

The second quote made me think of a performer in a small space where-ever in the world ready to play some contemporary avant-garde music. He or she wouldn’t leave a big impression by sitting down first and then taking off the shoes.”

You can order the book here

Excerpt from the second chapter, ‘One Beautiful Summer’

“I could only think of a little fragile man, his fanaticism that religious people call devotion, the diseases of that time and what a miserable life it must have been to dedicate your entire existence to a vision. Loyola helped to build an empire, an empire so big that it occupied worldly places, but also time itself and everything that happened within that time and space. At night the pilgrim and the scholar could go for a walk outside, look up at the stars and think they were in an enormous cathedral. And the only lights they could see were the stars above and the only sounds they could hear were hidden in the surrounding darkness. Marcin had called the composer of Blackout after the performance even before lightning his cigarette. It was a full Moon night. Months later Michal and Marcin went for a pilgrimage to the north of Spain. The composer, Tres had died soon after the performance in Elblag.”
you can get the book here

Excerpt from the second chapter, ‘One Beautiful Summer’

 

“Yes, it was a typical fine street for the world citizens of tomorrow. There would be shops with restored country furniture and shops where you could buy herbs, tea and coffee. People would sit outside and talk leisurely, while they had an ice cream or a pumpkin soup. There would be little galleries and small boutiques, a record shop and of course a beer brewery where a former hairdresser who had experience in developing all kinds of lotions, would do the same with beer. In short, the street would be full of shops and stores, galleries and boutiques that would take care of your opinions and morals and offer an attitude in return. We walked back into a nondescript street with hardly any traffic, where we had spotted a Vietnamese restaurant. We sat at an old table. We could see the interior of the kitchen where the cook juggled with a frying pan filled with noodles and vegetables. He sprayed liquid on it from yellow or red plastic bottles. Fumes and sizzles. In Berlin, health inspectors might have given the guy a hard time. We loved it. The restaurant was as basic as it could get. Probably it would disappear in the next years, together with the old market place behind it. But now we were here. Everything was okay. It was a beautiful day. ”

You can get the ePub here